Bil Browning

Matt Foreman to resign from NGLTF

Filed By Bil Browning | January 23, 2008 12:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, The Movement
Tags: Haas Jr Fund, Matt Foreman, NGLTF

Just in... Bilerico Project contributor and National Gay and Lesbian Task Force executive director, Matt Foreman, will step down in April to lead the Gay & Lesbian Program at the Evelyn & Walter Haas, Jr. Fund. Foreman has led the Task Force for five years and helped propel the organization to national prominence as an outspoken and unwavering advocate of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights.

Matt ForemanThe Haas, Jr. Fund, located in San Francisco, provides more grant support to LGBT organizations than any non-gay-identified foundation in the nation.

“We cannot adequately express our gratitude to Matt for his exceptional leadership over the last five years,” said Mark Sexton, Task Force board co-chair. “During his tenure, our staff grew to 54 full-time positions and our budget more than doubled to nearly $10 million. Our programming expanded strategically, our public profile increased dramatically, we’ve granted nearly $5 million to state and local partners. And most importantly, the Task Force has played an essential role in building our community’s grassroots strength. He has truly been an inspiration to so many who believe in equality for the full breadth of our LGBT community.”

Foreman called working for the Task Force “the greatest honor of my life.”

“I will always love the Task Force, our work, our board, and our staff,” he said. “Having served for 18 years as the executive director at three LGBT organizations, I’m incredibly privileged to be able to continue to work in and for the movement in a new role at the Haas, Jr. Fund. I have no doubt that the Task Force will continue to be the uncompromising progressive voice of the LGBT movement and to thrive and help lead our community to complete equality.”

Alan Acosta, Task Force board co-chair, said a national search would begin immediately to find Foreman’s successor. Foreman will work with his senior executive staff in the interim to ensure a smooth transition to new leadership.

“We are blessed to have an extraordinarily strong and deep management team,” Acosta said. “Working with Matt, the senior leaders of the team have built a dynamic and well-run organization that is respected inside and outside the movement. We are in great shape to keep pushing our mission of building our community’s political power and continuing the outstanding successes of the Task Force over the last few years.”

Acosta said the Task Force’s programmatic priorities for next year include building congressional support to pass an inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) in 2009, defeating an expected anti-marriage constitutional amendment in California and launching the organization’s new Academy for Leadership and Action, designed to support skills and leadership development for state and local activists.
Foreman’s direct speaking style and incisive critiques have helped raise the profile of Task Force and garnered significant media attention. In speeches, panels and op-eds, he has assailed right-wing leaders for homophobic actions and opposition to LGBT rights and challenged allies to fight for LGBT equality. At the same time, he has earned a reputation of working collaboratively with other groups and led the organization in building broad coalitions. Most recently the organization’s leadership was evident in its instrumental role in the formation and growth of United ENDA, a coalition of more than 350 national, state and local organizations opposing efforts to strip protections for transgender people and others from a federal nondiscrimination bill.

“Matt Foreman’s leadership solidified the Task Force as a home for the entire LGBT community,” said Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality. “As LGBT people, we might not all look the same, think the same, act the same, or need the same things — but we all know the Task Force respects all of us, fights for all of us and cares about all of us in the LGBT community. I look forward to continuing to work with the Task Force that Matt has built, as it continues to fight on for uncompromised equality for all of us.”

“The Task Force has been a significant partner for us in no small measure because of Matt’s leadership,” said H. Alexander Robinson, executive director/CEO of the National Black Justice Coalition and a fellow Bilerico Project contributor. “The Haas, Jr. Fund will have a leader who is unwilling to compromise his principles and fully committed to inclusion. More importantly his firsthand understanding of the challenges and opportunities facing the LGBT civil rights movement and our communities will be an asset in his new role.”

Roey Thorpe, former executive director of Basic Rights Oregon and current director of state services at Equality Federation said, “Matt has been in the trenches, working for change on every level from local to national and his leadership reflects that. He understands the power of grassroots organizing as few others do. What I admire most about Matt is that as a leader he never flinched, consistently bringing a clear, courageous voice for nothing short of full equality for our entire community. That’s the kind of leadership our movement needs.”

Foreman has the relatively unique distinction of serving as the executive director of a local, statewide and national LGBT organization — the New York City Gay & Lesbian Anti-Violence Project (1990–1996), the Empire State Pride Agenda (1997–2003), and the Task Force (since 2003). When he steps down, Foreman will have served as Task Force executive director longer than any prior director.

Leave a comment

We want to know your opinion on this issue! While arguing about an opinion or idea is encouraged, personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please be respectful of others.

The editorial team will delete a comment that is off-topic, abusive, exceptionally incoherent, includes a slur or is soliciting and/or advertising. Repeated violations of the policy will result in revocation of your user account. Please keep in mind that this is our online home; ill-mannered house guests will be shown the door.

Matt has been an unwavering leader for our community and a personal hero/mentor to me. While he will be missed at the NGLTF, I am glad to see he will continue his work with another great LGBT organization.

Thank you, Matt, for you amazing service to our community!

As a former Board Member of the Empire State Pride Agenda in New York during Matt's tenure at the organization and as someone who is just in awe of his vision and intelligence, I am also sad to see Matt leave the Task Force - even if Haas has gained an incredible person...

Michael Bedwell | January 23, 2008 2:52 PM

As vehemently as I have disagreed with him on some issues in the last year or so, this is very bad for our activist movement. There are those, and I am one of them, who believe that some of the problems at HRC might not have evolved as they did had NGLTF not been functionally sidelined for a number of years by leadership issues and not able to be a counterbalance. Worse still is that it comes during an arc that has seen the movement overall eating its own and disruptive changes at other LGBT organizations when they need, due to the election, be at the top of their proverbial game and working in unison as much as possible rather than demonizing each other and being distracted by headhunting and efforts at some kind of continuity. SLDN went without an Executive Director for a number of months last year and HRC decided to play expert/leader on overturning DADTDP; Stonewall Democrats have had leadership issues; PFLAG and GLAAD changed directors and the founder of GLSEN, Kevin Jennings, just announced he's leaving in August.

Not good. Not good.

It has been an honor to work with Matt over the years and it goes without saying that he’ll be missed at The Task Force. His perspective, leadership and insight into our movement have been invaluable. The good news is that he will remain an advocate for our community in his new position and I look forward to continuing our work together.

While NGLTF is losing one of the best and brightest in our community, at least Matt will still be working for the cause! And he'll still be blogging here, don't worry!

Wow, I'm in full and complete agreement with Joe Solmonese on something...whodathunkit?

Matt Foreman has been a true beacon for our community, and especially for gender-variant Americans, a living example of how one can evolve from promoting the politics of discrimination and divisiveness to standing up for the rights of each and every LGBT American equally, honestly, and enthusiastically.

We can only hope others who seek to lead this community's advocacy efforts will choose to learn from and emulate Matt's example.

LOL! Joe Solmonese has been reading all the horrible things we've been saying about him this whole time!

It's like when your friend calls you to gossip about your other friend, but... Surprise! The other friend was on the third line the whole time! Drama city.

Stephen Clark | January 23, 2008 5:39 PM

After the fiasco of trying to kill a federal gay-rights bill, manipulate rank and file gays and lesbians with disinformation, and erase and, later, slander as bigots anyone who disagreed with him, it was in the interest of both the organization and the gay-rights movement that Matt Foreman resign. I am pleased to see that he understood that too. It is unfortunate that the director of Lambda Legal, the willing source of misleading propaganda, has not followed a similarly honorable course in order to restore trust in that key organization as well.

No, not really, Nick. The true drama, if there is to be any, only comes when that person has the courage of their convictions to stand up and speak out in support of their viewpoint, respond to the naysayers, and enter into a constructive discussion and debate of the relevant issues, the kind of courage Matt Foreman has consistently demonstrated during his time with the Task Force.

Instead of doing that, Joe chose to stop posting here, citing a hostile environment toward HRC. Draw your own conclusions.

Let's keep the focus here on Matt and his accomplishments, please. I think he stands alone just fine - we don't need to compare him to anyone. :)

Sorry, Bil! But that said... I can't help asking:

Instead of doing that, Joe chose to stop posting here, citing a hostile environment toward HRC.

Rebecca, what do you know that the readers don't? Did Joe specifically tell the editors that he wasn't going to post on Bilerico anymore, citing the environment here?

MauraHennessey | January 23, 2008 9:25 PM

Thank you Matt for standing up for all of the LGBT community, even when there was pressure not to do so.

Giants have walked amongst us at times, and Matt Foreman is one of them, the leadership of Lambda Legal is as well...

From this Lesbian with the greatest respect, best wishes and good luck in all that you do, Sir.

Matt Foreman has had a more nuanced relationship with his bisexual constituents. Denise Penn of the American Institute of Bisexuality was quoted as saying that "The bisexual community is excited about the prospect of being involved in the search and selection process and hopeful that the new Executive Director will reach new levels of inclusion.".

Yes Nick, as has been reported in at least a few posts by the editorial staff here. I believe I first read that in one of Bil's posts (I think).

But getting back to the point: Matt Foreman has done an incredible amount in helping our activist community to reach the point where support of transgender rights are considered just as important and urgent for most as rights for everyone else. It's something I'm most grateful to him for, along with his willingness to speak out openly and honestly both about his support for full equality and inclusion, and about how he came to that position.

His work and his story are lessons we can all learn from.

Huh? Wow... I somehow completely missed that. Very interesting!

Bill Perdue | January 24, 2008 2:16 AM

Matt Foreman is to be congratulated for helping lead and strengthen resistance to the efforts of Pelosi, Frank and their Republican cousins to gut ENDA and for his willingness to call an ass an ass.

He'll be missed at the helm of NGLTF as GLBT folk campaign to have a real ENDA passed, DADT and DOMA repealed and push for the Mathew Sheppard Hate Crimes Act.

Just curious how much Matt Foreman is getting paid at his new job... Anyone know the details?

Michael Bedwell | January 24, 2008 11:26 AM

"Just curious how much Matt Foreman is getting paid at his new job"

And that would be any of your business exactly how, please?

NGLTF, HRC, GLAAD, et al., because they solicit donations from the public, have a moral responsibility to make their public, though few make the details easy to find. Unearthing HRC's IRS forms reveal, for example, they spend approximately $6 million a year on salaries. Joe's salary? Like Ragu, it's in there.

The Haas Fund GIVES MONEY AWAY which they have from investments of the Haas family wealth which comes from gay men, among others, buying a helluva lot of pairs of Levi's. Now contrast what the Haas family does with some of its profits with what the Coors family does with some of theirs. Of course, the latter company inexplicably got a 100% rating from HRC.

Each time I see this kind of news about Gay & lesbian i'm very envious. Anyway, thanks Matt for doing so much for Gay & lesbian. One of my bisexual friend at ******says:"If we bisexual can get so much right, we will be full of gratitude for goverment help."